The city of Tuscaloosa is bustling Wednesday as the University of Alabama prepares to host NewsNation's Republican Primary Debate in Moody Music Building later this evening.

The RNC has confirmed the Debate will feature New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor and diplomat Nikki Haley and pharmacological entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

It will kick off tonight at 7 p.m. on NewsNation and will be hosted by Megyn Kelly, Elizabeth Vargas, and editor Eliana Johnson.

Mayor Walt Maddox joined the Steve & DC Morning show on 95.3 the Bear Wednesday to talk about the debate, the honor of hosting it and to praise the expert city and UA employees working to make it the best event possible.

Get our free mobile app

He said city officials didn't play much role in getting the Presidential debate to the Druid City.

"The credit really goes to the Alabama Republican Party and the University of Alabama, they were the leaders on making this happen and doing the work necessary with the Republican National Committee," Maddox said. "Our role, when we learned of what was being discussed and proposed several months ago, was just to be the best supporting actor. So they deserve the credit, they're the ones who brought this debate to Alabama."

Maddox said the state's perceived political hegemony makes hosting the debate all the more surprising.

"Because Alabama, since 1976, has voted Republican in the general election, we don't get much interest, that's why you see these debates tend to be in places like Wisconsin or Florida that are swing states or could be in question in a national election, but this is really a monumental moment for Tuscaloosa and our state," Maddox said.

Just because Alabama is a solid red state doesn't mean Tuscaloosa should be left out of the conversation, Maddox said.

"San Francisco and New York and Miami are not America - Tuscaloosa, Alabama is America," he said. "We have manufacturing, we have high-tech jobs, we have teachers, we have firefighters and police officers. We're a city of 113,000 with a thriving and strong middle class. We have Republicans, we have Democrats, we have a diverse population - we are what America is. Those places are Disneyland, no offense."

The debate will not draw former President Donald Trump back to Tuscaloosa - the Republican frontrunner is expected to be fundraising in Florida instead of debating four candidates who all trail him significantly in polls.

It will still prominent politicians and personalities from all over the country to Tuscaloosa, and Maddox said that positive exposure and influence are worth a lot.

With the city staff working hand-in-hand with the University of Alabama and countless other agencies to plan and execute the debate, Maddox said he's confident it will go well Wednesday night.

"The event logistics of this are not difficult. Hosting Gameday is difficult, this is not," mayor Maddox said. "What we want to do is make certain that Tuscaloosa, as part of this dialogue, is shown in the best light. So if it's safe, our city is clean, the media has a good time, our guests have a really good time, then we've done our job to promote the city of Tuscaloosa."

Two candidates will also be in downtown Tuscaloosa Thursday morning for a segment on cable's top-rated FOX & Friends morning show.

Top Stories from the Tuscaloosa Thread (11/27 - 12/4)

12 of the Top Stories published by the Tuscaloosa Thread during the week of November 20th, 2023. Roll Tide!

Gallery Credit: (Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

More From Tuscaloosa Thread